HR worker wins £28,000 after being ordered to clean toilets after she returned from maternity leave
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An HR professional has been awarded £28,000 after she was ordered to clean toilets following maternity leave.
Mrs Messum has since won a discrimination case after it went to tribunal. It emerged that her boss had been attempting to 'degrade and humiliate' her following her maternity leave.
A tribunal found that the mum-of-three had been targeted by a 'discriminatory regime' which targeted pregnant employees. This created a 'hostile' and 'intimidating' environment.
The 38-year-old has now been awarded £28,107.11 worth of compensation for injury to feelings at a tribunal.
A hearing heard that Mrs Messum, who has an MBA, started work at Bradford Management Services in Leeds as an executive and HR assistant in January 2019.
Later that year, she told her new employers that she was pregnant and would be going on maternity leave. The hearing heard that Dr Gul Nawaz Akbar, the head of technical and compliance at the time, had started shouting at her and ordered her to carry out physically demanding tasks.
This was reflective of a long-standing prejudice towards employees who were expecting, the hearing heard. Mrs Messum recounted that on a previous occasion, he had asked her to 'get rid of' another worker who had announced she was pregnant.
He had also refused to pay for sick leave, which was a way of exacting 'punishment and control'. She was even falsely accused of stealing food from the canteen during her pregnancy.
When she returned to work from her maternity leave, she was relieved of her HR duties and instead told to work in sales, before being demoted again to cleaning work.
Employment Judge Sarah-Jane Davies said: "She could see that Dr Akbar was treating her in the same way he had treated other women and knew that he wanted to get rid of her.
"She considered that the allegation of theft and demoting her to do general clerical work and housekeeping, including toilet cleaning, were to degrade and humiliate her and force her to leave the company.
"This was not a one-off act with continuing consequences, but was the operation of a discriminatory regime, or an ongoing state of affairs in which [Mrs Messum] was treated unfavourably."
Mrs Messum said: "I was told I didn't have a chance to win but I knew I was doing the right thing. I wanted other pregnant women to know how to get help on how to save themselves."